More than 40 young people were arrested Monday on Capitol Hill as more than 100 protested in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Capitol Hill office to demand that he and other senators support the Green New Deal.
The demonstration, organized by the youth environmental activist group Sunrise Movement, comes following an altercation between other young protesters and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday over her lack of support for the Green New Deal. The comprehensive 10-year climate change initiative, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, has forced more moderate Democrats to reckon with progressive pressure from within the party – though McConnell, who leads the Senate, is a Kentucky Republican.
Protesters, including some native Kentuckians, arrived at McConnell’s office at about 10:40 a.m. ET. Several gathered and spoke in the office lobby while dozens more lined the hallways, many of them wearing black and yellow shirts and holding signs with slogans such as “Mitch, look us in the eyes” and “Kentucky needs a Green New Deal.”
“We wanted to deliver 100,000 signatures from across the country (from) people that support Ocasio and Markey’s Green New Deal,” 17-year-old Destine Grigsby of Louisville, Kentucky told staff in McConnell’s office. “We also wanted to ask if we could deliver some stories to him, if we could … tell him why were here and why we support the Green New Deal.”
McConnell promised earlier this month to hold a vote on the measure – a way to force vulnerable Democrats to take a public stances. Rigsby on Monday called the move “a way for him to crush our movement … a way for him to just play games with our futures.”
Staff offered to check McConnell’s availability, but the senator did not meet with the protesters.
“As with all Kentuckians visiting DC, we welcomed them to the office today,” McConnell’s communications director Robert Steurer told CNN in an email.
After a series of speeches, protesters outside and inside McConnell’s office started singing “which side are you on,” prompting Capitol Police to issue warnings and begin making arrests. Officers arrested 42 people for unlawfully demonstrating and crowding and obstructing the building, Capitol Police Spokesperson Eva Malecki confirmed to CNN.
After they were removed from inside the Senate building by Capitol police, protesters gathered outside to cheer on those arrested and continue rallying.
CORRECTION: This story has been update to correct the spelling of Sunrise Movement protest participant Destine Grigsby.